slowthai unravels his deepest thoughts on ‘UGLY’

‘UGLY’ released on Friday, March 3 under Method Records. (Photo courtesy of

Dionte Berry, Editor-in-Chief

Like a searing headrush, slowthai’s “UGLY” thrashes and rages down experimental avenues of punk and electronic, blending aggression and introspection. Frampton pounds his fist through the drywall in a psychological and creative purge.

Tyron Kaymone Frampton, professionally known as slowthai, sprouted as a rowdy icon: his stage name was originally the Brexit Bandit. Frampton talked politics, drug addiction and poverty in his 2019 debut album, “Nothing Great About Britain.”

Frampton became a voice for a politically frustrated and let-down younger generation. On “UGLY,” he feels as if he’s looking into the mirror as a creative and feels stuck in his red-blooded and disorderly persona.

In his sophomore album “TYRON,” Frampton maintained a sense of debut rebelliousness, but also addressed some of his acts the public critiqued and  a more delicate, romantic side to his persona. After “TYRON” was released, Frampton found himself in a slump.

“I was quiet and down and wasn’t finding anything exciting,” Frampton said in an Apple Music interview. “Delving into this gave me that freedom again. I felt inspired. I wanted to do something new and challenge myself rather than just doing what’s expected of me.”

“Yum” opens the 12-track album with a panic attack. Frampton is breathing hard while repeating the mantra, “You’re a genius.”

A pounding beat interrupts Frampton’s chant, and he begins to talk about his lack of motivation. It feels as if his face is only a couple inches away from a bathroom mirror, saying these lyrics to his reflection.

“Yum” doesn’t just slightly guide the listener into the atmosphere of “UGLY”; it jerks them. In the song, Frampton is open about his mental state and talks about his experience with therapy sessions, self destruction and alcoholism.

“Selfish” relaxes the tone, opening with a guitar and a punk attitude. However, the calm tone rises aggression as Frampton reveals his cynical world outlook. His peers and those around him seem to view his outlook as selfish.

With his voice and attitude, Frampton fits in well with a rowdy rock backdrop. Toward the end of the song, Frampton’s voice softens as he dives into nihilism about life being a cycle of people not learning from their mistakes.

“Sooner” keeps to that punky sound, but it feels lighter. Frampton still talks about heavy personal topics, such as suicide, failure and feeling misunderstood, to a jingle-like tone.

Despite the overwhelming lyrics, “Sooner” is still one of the lighter moments on the album. I enjoy Frampton’s casualness. It breaks the aggression and reminds listeners these feelings are an everyday matter.

“Feel Good” has a light feeling and details moments of Frampton possibly lying to those around him. He says, “I feel so good,” yet there are overwhelming feelings bubbling under the surface.

Frampton also dives into the persona he has been assigned  by the public, singing, “tears of a clown every time I cry.” It feels as though he’s trapped as a comic, and people would not expect serious feelings from him.

In “F**k It Puppet,” Frampton is back to rapping. Over the short song, Frampton is having a conversation with himself. He goes in between wanting to harm himself and wanting to get better. The voice in his head pretends to be his friend yet provokes Frampton to act carelessly.

Frampton acknowledges bottling up his feelings isn’t healthy on “HAPPY,” realizing he wants to get better and feel the happiness he’s felt in the past. In the second half of the song, Frampton dives into a spoken word sound.

Despite trying to understand these negative feelings, Frampton still does not know how to healthily handle emotions, and in the end, he contemplates running away.

Frampton’s layered vocals feel sleepy and disjointed in the intro of “UGLY.” The chorus features him spelling “ugly” 10 times in a row. He does this four times—four times too many, especially since Frampton just finished spelling “happy” on “HAPPY.”

Although the spelling feels lazy and repetitive, the verses in-between really shine. Frampton talks about the ugliness he feels, but also the ugliness he sees in the world.

The album ends on a delicate note in “25% Club,” and Frampton’s lyricism is a highlight, using metaphors and similes. but, as an end note to a project with intense highs, it feels underwhelming.

Frampton talks about a relationship that seems to be helping him through his depression, but it feels odd he starts this journey by himself, then ends with a partner who seems to be keeping him afloat.

By the end, of course, I’m expecting all of Frampton’s problems to feel resolved and for the initial rage to be readdressed, but that doesn’t happen. In his Apple Music interview, Frampton said the song is about wanting, longing and feeling as if he is missing 25% of himself.

With this partner, he feels 100% present. This is not the note to end on, and I wanted to see more introspection for the finale.

Overall, Frampton doesn’t do poorly addressing his mental turmoil, but he fails to come full circle. Despite this, Frampton does a great job of leaning into a more punk and alternative sound.

One element I would like to see Frampton abandon is his repetitiveness. For multiple songs—“UGLY,” “Feel Good,” “Falling” and “Wotz Funny”—the choruses are just a repetition of words or spellings; it feels as if Frampton could have explored more in his lyrics.

“UGLY” is an ambitious and vulnerable third album from Frampton, and I wouldn’t mind seeing him continue to take this sound down an alternative route.

Additionally, a man addressing mental well-being through such a candid lens isn’t common, so I applaud him.

“UGLY” deserves a 6.5 out of 10. With his current experimentation, I look forward to what Frampton has in line next.